There was no sign Emile Heskey would be coming to the club when Craig Goodwin joined Newcastle Jets this season – and what a bonus the English striker’s arrival has turned out to be for one of the hottest young players in the competition.
Goodwin has been Newcastle’s best player over the first two rounds and he told The World Game he felt he was improving every week through priceless tips from the vastly experienced Heskey as much as anything else.
“When a big-name player like that joins the club you don’t know whether he’s going to be open with the rest of the players or a bit aloof,” Goodwin said.
“But Emile has been great since he came here. He’s doing his best to fit in and make us all better players at the same time.
“He’s always giving advice to players – particularly the younger ones, like me.
”He has given me some great pointers already. Some of it has been about stuff I didn’t even think about, but which makes really good sense and seems so simple when he explains it to you.
“It’s great to be able to learn from him. He gives us tips about our own games and also how to best combine with him on the field. He's such a humble guy. It’s going to take a bit of time for him to get used to us and vice versa, but it’s happening.”
Goodwin, 20, left Melbourne Heart at the end of last season despite having an offer to remain there.
He said he wasn’t unhappy at the club but felt his long-term football future would be better served by a switch to the Jets.
“Heskey wasn’t even in the frame to come here when I was talking to the Jets,” Goodwin said.
“After I made my A-League debut last season I got an offer from the Jets and I also had one from the Heart to stay, but I really liked what I heard from the Jets.
“It wasn’t a financial decision, to switch clubs. There wasn’t a big difference between the two offers when it came to money. It was still a difficult decision to leave, but when I spoke to Robbie (Middleby, the Newcastle chief executive) and Gary (van Egmond, the coach) they just sold the club really well.
“The things they wanted to do to take the club forward, the team they were setting up – I was really impressed. They said they were looking at buying some other players as well, but I didn’t really go into that with them.
“It was only later on that Emile became available, and I’m very happy that he’s at the club.”
Goodwin was known as a left back at Heart but he is displaying enormous versatility at the Jets.
He has been seen at left midfield and on the left wing in the early rounds and scored a goal in the 3-2 win over Sydney FC last weekend.
Playing in front of a huge crowd at Allianz Stadium and with marquee players Heskey and Sydney’s Alessandro Del Piero on the pitch at the same time was an incredible buzz for a young fellow like him.
“I played against Victory in a Melbourne derby in my A-League debut, and there were 27,000 people there,” he said.
“That was great, and it was fantastic to play in front of 35,000 last week. Hopefully, we’ll get a big home crowd this week, coming off our win over Sydney.”
The Jets will play Central Coast Mariners at Hunter Stadium on Saturday.
Goodwin has drawn rave reviews for his close control, making him very dangerous in one-on-situations, and his confidence when shooting.
“I’m not afraid to shoot,” he said. “I used to do a lot of work on one-on-one situations with John Walker, a coach I had as a junior, and that is standing me in good stead now.”
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